What Is the History of the Bible?


Quick Answer

Many authors, editors and translators all played a role in the creation of the Christian Bible over thousands of years. The earliest biblical stories date back approximately 4000 years, when people orally handed the stories on to each new generation. Early Jewish scribes compiled the Old Testament between 1300 and 300 B.C. Early Christians wrote the original 27 books of the New Testament between 45 and 100 A.D.

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Full Answer

Biblical authors often took their stories from earlier oral traditions and did not write the stories in the order they exist in the Bible as eventually compiled. For instance, the book of Job may be the earliest book in the Bible, dating back as far as 2000 B.C. Despite the names appearing on many Biblical books, historians have little firm evidence of true authorship.

Only with the approval of the Third Synod of Carthage in 397 did the Bible achieve some stability. Saint Jerome translated the New and Old Testaments into Latin at about the same time. Translation often included subtle changes in language, as exact translation was not always possible. Translations of translations, such as the King James Bible, further compounded these subtle changes.

Despite the canonical treatment of the Bible, it did not always remain unaltered even after the Third Synod of Carthage. For instance, during the Middle Ages, an anonymous scribe added the story of an adulterous woman that starts at John 7:53 and now appears in almost all modern translations.

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